In a world of convenience and getting everything quickly, sometimes it’s the long way and the slow roads that lead us to the greatest pleasures. And that can be said for many destinations in Northern California that although a bit out of the way, are definitely worth the effort. Come along as we take a brief look at five drive-worthy destinations that offer a bit of a respite from our fast-paced norms.
The town of Yreka is located about 25 minutes south of the California/Oregon border.
Perhaps it’s the fun name or the story behind it, but Yreka is a small town that is worth a visit. In some historical circles, the word “Yreka” is believed to have been derived from a Native American tribe word for "north mountain" or "white mountain" – thought to be in reference to nearby Mount Shasta. However, famous author Mark Twain said it was a mispronunciation of a store in town.
Yreka played a major role in California’s Gold Rush Era around the early 1850s.
Officially named in 1941, Yreka is brimming with scores of homes (you can embark upon both a guided and self-guided walking tour) and historic structures, the latter, particularly along historic downtown Miner Street. Great places to see and explore include the Siskiyou County Museum, Siskiyou County Courthouse, Greenhorn Park, and the Chinese Cemetery Memorial, just to name a few.
2. Smith River
The town of Smith River is located along Highway 101 between Crescent City and Brookings.
For a small town, it and the surrounding area has a lot to offer. For starters, there’s the history, as it is the home of the federally recognized headquarters of the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation Native American tribe. It also boasts its position as the Easter Lily Capital of the World (who knew?).
Smith River is most well-known for the amazing fishing along the Smith River here.
Offering spectacular views and pristine emerald waters, it is a favorite destination for fishing. Steelhead Trout and Chinook Salmon are among the biggest catches here. Other recreational adventures include exploring the various wetlands, dunes, lakes, and beaches at Tolowa Dunes State Park and Clifford Kamph Memorial Park. Both are unique and ecologically diverse locales in which to grasp a greater appreciation of the spectacular Northern California landscape.
Smith River, CA 95567, USA
Situated just off Highway 139, the town of Tulelake is a stone’s throw (literally, only five minutes) south of the California/Oregon border. It was established in 1937 and is named after Tule Lake located nearby.
“Built By Veterans” is a proudly held statement in Tulelake, as it was part of a land lottery after World War II designed to support agricultural field preparation and cultivation for veterans. The town remains a thriving agricultural focal point in this part of the state today.
Part of the city’s saga centers around a shameful era in the history of this country – the internment of Japanese Americans and German Prisoners of War.
The Tule Lake National Monument—a national historic site—encompasses the Tule Lake Segregation Center where these individuals were processed and held beginning in 1943. The site also features Camp Tulelake, a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp, where harsh manual labor was imposed. Despite the horrific events that took place, it is nonetheless worth seeing. Other more pleasurable attractions in town include the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and Lava Beds National Monument, the latter of which has also been designated as a national historic site.
The town of Weed, located approximately 10 miles north of Mount Shasta off Interstate 5, is known for its jaw-dropping scenic beauty.
This town is named after an early settler by the name of Abner Weed who came here sometime in the mid-1800s. The city motto is totally cool too: “Weed like to welcome you”
Home to just under 7,000 people, the town is nonetheless brimming with things to see, do, and enjoy. One of the best places to grasp some of the early history here is by visiting the Weed Historic Lumbertown Museum.
The building itself, completed in 1940, is historic in and of itself, in that it previously served as a courthouse, police headquarters, and jail. Inside you’ll find approximately 2,000 square feet of exhibit and gallery spaces encompassing an early fire truck, stagecoach, historic photographs, a turn-of-the-century kitchen, sports memorabilia, and more. Other activities to do in and around town include the COS Performing Arts Theatre, Lake Shastina Golf Resort, Black Butte Trail, and Stewart Mineral Springs, among numerous others.
5. Happy Camp
And last but not least on the list is Happy Camp. This close-knit small town is located off Highway 96 about 40 miles from the Oregon border in a pretty remote region of the rugged Klamath Mountains wilderness along the banks of the mighty Klamath River.
A perusal of the town’s historical accounts leads one to believe that it was a journey toward growing into its name. Yes, it was founded as a thriving logging camp during California’s Gold Rush era. But clashes over gold claims here led to quite a bit of lawlessness, violence, and what has been described as a roughneck way of life.
One of the town’s most famous “residents” is, you guessed it from the photo, Bigfoot, who is still believed to wander throughout the region today.
For those who are not Sasquatch followers, you’ll find plenty to see and do. Fishing is one of the most popular activities here, as well as camping, hiking, and swimming. There is also an avid arts and culture focus here, as evidenced by the wealth of programming offered at the Happy Camp Community Center.
Happy Camp, CA 96039, USA
Have you been to any of these destinations that require a little work to get to but are so worth the effort? If so, we’d love to see your photos and hear about your experience there.
Address: Smith River, CA 95567, USA Address: Tulelake, CA 96134, USA Address: Weed, CA, USA Address: Yreka, CA 96097, USA Address: Happy Camp, CA 96039, USA
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